David Paulides believes the American public would be spooked if it knew how many people were mysteriously disappearing every year in the country's national parks. People have gone missing while poking around near a gift shop, running with a friend, and wearing professional survival gear. And while Paulides could be dismissed as a conspiracy theorist—he tells of secret meetings with park rangers, bodies inexplicably reappearing, and a cover-up by the National Park Service—Outside reports there is something to his claims in a massive piece about persons who've gone missing on federal public land.
The government doesn't actually keep track of how many people have disappeared on the land it owns. That leaves it up to civilian experts and people like Paulides. Their best estimate: at least 1,600 disappearances that can't be easily explained on the country's 640 million acres of federal land. But it may be far more than that. Go missing in a city, and the police, sheriff, state bureau of investigation, and FBI can all bear responsibility for the search. Disappear out in the wild, and that list dwindles to mostly just the local sheriff—and sheriffs aren't always prepared or enthused to search massive expanses of wilderness with a small, underpaid staff and little to no training. That can lead to a lot of unsolved missing persons cases. Read the full story here. (Read more missing person stories.)